NUWC on leading edge of combat

KEYPORT — It’s not often that airmen, sailors and soldiers have the opportunity to participate in live-fire exercises demonstrating the full arsenal that each brings to the field of combat.

However, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center at Keyport is doing its part to give officers and enlisted personnel that capability in a simulated environment.

“We have a responsibility in training that makes us adapt to new environments,” explained Reid Johnson, who leads the Collaborative Test and Evaluation Center at Keyport.

The facility can be linked to the Army’s battlefield simulation center at Fort Lewis, which is also coupled with nearby McChord Air Force Base, to give participants the full battlefield scenario that includes combat air support, Tomahawk cruise missiles, Humvees, tanks and numerous other combat-related components.

“The idea is by bringing in people locally we can define what kind of exercise they want,” Johnson said.

Once the combat scenario is selected, all of the information is loaded into the system and participants will only see what they would see in a real-world situation, he said.

“We can redirect what goes on and we can easily go back and see what happened,” he remarked, noting that participants can stop the action at any point and review their performances instead of having to wait until the end of the exercise.

That capability allows leaders to maximize the training exercise and talk with analysts about areas for improvement, Johnson said.

With the new CTEC building scheduled to open by January 2006, all of the elements involved will be closer together, he explained, adding that the new building will enhance the overall training experience and help leaders better achieve their set goals for the exercise.

“We’re all trying to get on the same sheet of music because we all have the same goal of training together,” he said.

By learning how to talk across the different service branches, Johnson hopes those lessons will translate into improved communication in combat situations.

“We’re hoping that lessons learned here will be lessons they don’t have to learn on the actual battlefield,” he said.

For Capt. Daniel Looney, who commands the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Keyport, the CTEC is one component of the overall diversity of the center.

“It’s really about readiness for the fleet,” Capt. Looney said.

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